Jack Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22, has been writing a monthly diary this season for NHL.com leading up to the draft. The 18-year-old center, the brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, had 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 Team. He set NTDP records for assists (154) and points (228) in 110 games in two seasons with the program. In this entry, Hughes wraps up his experience at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine.
Hello hockey fans.
I had a fantastic week at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. I was happy to meet some pretty cool kids and it was good to meet some of the guys from my draft class.
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I had interviews with 10 teams but didn't do any of the testing on Saturday. I think I knew coming into the combine I wasn't going to do the testing because I really haven't trained for it, playing hockey the past two months. I really haven't had a break (after playing in the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden and IIHF World Championship in Slovakia). It just didn't make sense to do the testing. My body needed a bit of a break.
That said, I'm a competitive kid and felt like I could have done well in some of this stuff.
The interviews were fun. It's a tough process because you have to refocus every time and I think it's a really important week for a lot of people. Obviously, the New Jersey Devils (who hold the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft) and the New York Rangers (No. 2) were the most important interviews for me. I felt like both of those went good and I was comfortable with both of them.
It was basically the same questions every meeting. They're just trying to get to know you a little bit, pick your brain on some players, and try to put a face to the name. For me, I felt comfortable in those meetings.
I didn't have too much contact with my brothers Quinn or Luke this week. They know I'm busy, so they've been leaving me alone a little bit, but I've been texting with them and checking in. I haven't had much time off this year so I'm just going to try and be an 18-year-old kid, hang out and not worry about anything for a week or two before heading to Vancouver. That's when everything ramps up again.
Video: Hughes on catching up with peers at Scouting Combine
I was asked to comment on Kaapo Kakko and if I was disappointed that he wasn't able to attend the combine, but I completely understand his situation. He's an 18-year-old kid and he just won the 2019 IIHF World Championship so I'm sure he wants to have a little fun rather than grind at the combine. I'm sure he's having a lot of fun celebrating back in Finland right now.
I enjoy the comparisons with Kakko. We're two really good players, and if we went first and second in this draft it would be something. It's not like other years where Auston Matthews goes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrik Laine to the Winnipeg Jets (at the 2016 NHL Draft). Me and Kaapo would be in the same (Metropolitan) division and right across the river from each other so I think it could be a fun and competitive rivalry for a lot of years.
Next on the agenda is an invitation to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in St. Louis on Monday. That will be unbelievable; to be able to go to a Stanley Cup Final game will be exciting and I'm going to have a lot of fun with that.
I think it's so crazy how the draft is built up for one day and then once that day comes you're almost forgotten and it's on to the next group. I'm really excited to see where I go in the draft, and it'll be an awesome day for me and my family.
Thanks for reading. Next stop is Vancouver for the 2019 NHL Draft.
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